How to Translate Military Experience to Civilian Employment

Tips for Translating Military Experience to Civilian Employment

BE Military Woman
(Image: File)

Tips for Translating Military Experience to Civilian Employment
Warriors returning home from deployment may experience challenges when reintegrating into the civilian workplace, such as when translating life skills developed while deployed into marketable capabilities.

In honor of Veterans Day, the Real Warriors Campaign ( offers advice for how to translate military experience to civilian employment.

The skills service members develop while in uniform are truly valuable and in high demand, but describing those skills to a prospective employer can be difficult. For instance, transitioning warriors may have trouble explaining military jargon or be unsure of how to bridge the culture gap that exists between military and civilian workplaces.

There are three steps veterans can take to translate their military experience to civilian employment, and a wide range of resources are available to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Step 1: De-militarize Your Resume

Whether you were a sharpshooter in the Army, a diver in the Navy, or had another profession in the military, there are marketable skills you developed in your career that apply to the civilian workplace. Think beyond the specific function you carried out and identify the core value, skill or expertise you brought to the table. For example, you may have led small teams to carry out high-priority objectives in high pressure situations. Focus your resume on core values, skills and expertise including leadership, ability to carry out work with minimal supervision, attention to detail and ability to work under strict deadlines.

Step 2: Give the Full Picture of Your Experience

Be sure to include concrete examples of your skills, for example:

  • Technical Skills: Military careers such as a telecommunication technician, financial management technician, mechanic or health care specialist all have closely related civilian careers. The technical skills you developed in your military career should be included in your resume.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Working in the military requires working with a variety of personalities, from high-ranking officers to unit commanders, teammates and subordinates. Interpersonal skills are valued in the civilian workplace and should be detailed in your resume to reflect your ability to work with many different kinds of colleagues to get the job done.
  • Leadership Skills: Any leadership experience or training that you acquired in the military is also highly valued by civilian employers. Overseeing subcontractors is a leadership skill that can be valuable in the civilian world.

Step 3: Use Resources Available to Help You with the Transition

There are a variety of programs to support you as you transition from your military career to a new civilian career as well as initiatives to help you get your civilian career started. Resources available at the VA’s VetSuccess ( include military to civilian occupation translators and educational and vocational counseling services available to help veterans successfully transition to civilian employment. In addition, the Real Warriors Campaign website includes a variety of employment-related resources (, such as resume tips, information on job application assistance, workplace stress management and more.

Additionally, help is available for job-hunting warriors experiencing psychological health concerns. Real Warriors Campaign profilee former Staff Sgt. Meg Krause, who served in Iraq as a combat medic, has been able to maintain a successful civilian career after reaching out for care and support.

“Admitting you need help is not a career ender,” Krause said. “After I sought psychological health care, everything else fell into place.”

Krause was diagnosed with PTSD and began receiving psychological health care with the support of her unit, chain of command and civilian counterparts. Read more of her story here (

Active-duty warriors, National Guard members and reservists, veterans, families and health professionals can confidentially reach out to health consultants 24/7 through the Real Warriors Live Chat feature ( or by calling 1-866-966-1020. Visitors can also connect with one another directly through our message boards (

For more tips and resources for veteran employment and psychological resilience, visit the Real Warriors Campaign online

This article was adapted from the Real Warriors Campaign article Translating Military Experience to Civilian Employment: